Watching Mo Farah competing in the World Athletics Championships while in my Costa Brava hotel reminded me of a gig I did a decade ago with Frank Dick, then head of UK Athletics. He asked the audience which was the most important: natural ability, hard work or good coaching?
It is also a decade since I first watched a couple of cormorants catching breakfast in the bay at Tossa de Mar.
They were the reason my partner got up early and eventually into the water at 7.30am, surprising herself by loving every minute. We would meet after I had done an hour of running, press-ups and all that jazz along the prom and up the castle ramparts. Ten years later we are in a beach-front gaff rather than a kilometre back inland.
Every morning is a short walk to the shallows, shouldering plump hotel towels. After reading the iPapers on the balcony at sunrise I jog along the prom and back, trying a few press ups at the far end.
I meet my other half at the bottom of the ramparts, which remained unconquered half way through the week.
The cormorants take an hour to have their fill then dry off, wings akimbo, on a nearby rock.
One morning they really put on a show, beaching sand eels then popping out to grab a few more. The herring gulls like this because of the free fish. Twenty times I saw the sleek green bullets dive and twenty times they came up with nothing as the fish darted this way and that, not keen to be caught. Yet every time they went under, they believed.
Every time, they did the right thing. Every time there was a quick look, a breath, every sinew strained: then dive, swim, dart, dart, lunge. Every morning they have their fill because they know where to fish, have great technique, never give up and make sure their equipment will be tip-top when tomorrow comes.
Inspired by the cormorants, next morning I run from the hotel to the far end of the prom, do my press-ups and then right to the top of the castle ramparts (without much left in the locker, I admit).
Hard work trumps most other attributes, according to Frank Dick. If I had decided to hit the heights of the castle ramparts on the first morning, I would not now have a few pounds to lose. I might even have dropped a pound or two, as I did a decade ago.
All I needed was to follow nature’s lead, and to have changed my attitude a few days earlier.
This article appeared in The Scotsman on 22nd August: http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/russell-wardrop-all-i-needed-was-to-follow-nature-s-lead-and-attitude-and-it-paid-off-handsomely-1-4537678
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Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.